Methanol is a clear liquid chemical primarily produced from natural gas and used in a wide range of industrial processes. Its end-uses include: Formaldehyde (used in pharmaceuticals, timber and automobiles); Acetic Acid (used in paints, adhesives and fleece); Dimethyl Terephthalate (used in recyclable plastic bottles); and Methyl Chloride, (used in silicones). Methanol can even be converted into gasoline with proven technologies such as the Exxon-Mobil MTG process.
The worldwide demand for methanol is around 55 million tons annually, and the market is expected to grow at 7.5 percent through 2016.
Hydrogen is mostly used in fossil fuel processing and ammonia production, predominantly in the fertilizer market. Nearly 96 percent of all hydrogen is derived from fossil fuels, including natural gas (49%), liquid hydrocarbons (29%), coal (18%). Electrolysis and other byproduct sources account for the remaining production (4%).
Global demand for hydrogen is projected to grow by 2 percent to 3 percent annually through 2014, according to CEH Marketing Research Reports on Hydrogen. Meanwhile, environmental regulations require stricter hydrogen requirements at refineries due to increased demand for cleaner fuels coupled with a reduced supply of hydrogen byproduct from large refineries due to increased use of heavy crudes that are hydrogen-deficient. LCCE will cleanly increase the supply of hydrogen to help meet this demand.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
CO2 is today used extensively by the oil industry for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). About 90 percent of LCCE’s CO2 will be captured, compressed and transported via a 12-mile pipeline to be used in EOR operations along the Gulf Coast. According to a March 2010 CEH Marketing Research Report on Carbon Dioxide, CO2 consumption is projected to grow at approximately 1.5 percent in the United States
Sulfuric Acid (H2SO4)
Sulfuric acid is one of the world’s most widely used industrial chemicals. It is generally used as a process chemical – acidulating agent, catalyst, dehydrating agent – or in a similar function. Part of its appeal is its low cost. The majority of demand for sulfuric acid is in the fertilizer industry while the rest is used by oil refineries, in metals production and other chemical applications. According to a September 2009 CEH Marketing Research Report on Sulfuric Acid, demand is projected to grow at approximately 1.2 percent through 2013.
Argon is a highly valued industrial gas used for its inert characteristics, low thermal conductivity and electronic properties. It is mostly used for steel processes, such as the production of stainless steel and welding applications, as well as for electronics. According to the November 2011 Chemical Economics Handbook, the 2011-2016 growth for Argon is estimated at 3.6 percent.
Other Rare Gases
With minimal engineering or construction, the LCCE project will have the capability to produce other rare (inert) gases, such as Krypton and Xenon, which have many important uses. Krypton (Kr) is used in lighting, photography and high-powered gas lasers. Xenon (Xe) is used in car headlights, lamps, as a general anesthetic, and as the propellant for ion thrusters in spacecraft.